Sony has cancelled their plans to release The Interview, issuing this statement via Deadline.
In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.
And now, breaking news, The New York Times is reporting that the US has linked the hackers to the North Korean government.
The Sony hacking story has amounted to a long, controversial and even scary news cycle in which a group of hackers known as the Guardians of Peace took credit for stealing personal and corporate information possessed by Sony. Their reason: the impending Christmas Day release of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview, in which the duo play journalists given the opportunity to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and are tasked by the FBI to assassinate him…with dick jokes a plenty.
The hacked information included several films illegally released online, social security numbers revealed, internal emails disclosed and celebrity aliases uncovered.
Some at Deadline argued that not seeing the movie amounted to letting the cyber terrorists win, while Aaron Sorkin penned a thoughtful and scathing op-ed in the New York Times that called the entertainment press out for disclosing all that had been stolen.
But it all came to a head on December 16 when the hackers upped the stakes with this ominous message:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
Clearly the stakes had been raised to scary proportions that struck a chord for Americans, and although word from the government was that there was no immediate intelligence that would suggest an imminent attack, over the last 24 hours theater chain distributors, including the four largest in America, AMC Theaters, Regal Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, and Cinemark, have followed in suit in deciding to not screen The Interview prior to Sony’s ultimate decision.
Seth Rogen and James Franco had also cancelled all of their upcoming media stops to promote the film, and Vulture published an interview Wednesday with the screenwriter of The Interview, Dan Sterling, who reacted to the events over the last few weeks, including comments that an original draft of the film included a fictional name for Kim Jong-un, but Rogen and Co-Director Evan Goldberg ultimately said no to the studio’s request to change it to a fake name.
It’s unclear whether The Interview will eventually be released, if at a later date.